Lost Angels Ch. 03byIkay©
Author's Note: Sorry for the delay in bringing out this chapter. It's longer than usual. Any editing error's are my fault.
Sandy's Bar, Kebbi Creek
July 11, 2002, Friday, 19:37
Thick fumes of nicotine assailed Caesar's nostrils as he walked through the beaded curtain into the dimly lit bar room. His eyes automatically scanned the people present. Most of them he sensed were regular drinkers with a sprinkling of the once- in- a- whiles. They all looked well to do and he suspected a lot of them were oil workers, men from the rig drinking off the stress of work.
He noticed that they all looked curiously at him when he came in. He knew they were having difficulty placing him. Even though he had clean cut good looks and a neat and tidy appearance, he didn't appear to be a banker. That complex bankers have that they must be immaculately dressed and polished at all times was absent in him.
He didn't appear to be an oil worker either. He didn't have the rugged looks of the men on the rig and he looked too young and carefree to be one of the corporate staff. His well pressed sky blue shirt, matching denim trousers and black ankle length boots were worn carelessly in the manner of a man who does not know the worth of what he is wearing. Even the way he slung his bag over his shoulder was juvenile. Caesar ignored their stares and went straight to the bar.
Two young ladies were perched on high stools, sipping brandy. They wore black evening gowns that were slashed to the hips and the V in front dipped dangerously to the navel. Their cosmetic beauty could not hide the hard look in their eyes. Pros, thought Caesar. He blanked them and hopped on a stool to face the barman who seemed surprised at his action.
"A dead bottle of stout, please", he said pleasantly, wondering why the barman was wearing dark glasses in such gloom. He spied a nametag on the breast pocket of the white shirt: Ani L. Assem.
As the barman went to collect his drink he noticed that the two bimbos were watching him intently. He turned in his stool to back them.
His drink arrived and pulling a fat wallet from his back pocket, extracted two hundred Niara notes and passed it to the barman who's eyes nearly fell out of the sockets.
"Keep the change." He said breezily.
There was a grateful mumble of gratitude and Caesar waited for the bottle to be opened and took a swig. The bitter black liquid was delicious. He was suddenly aware of a presence behind him and the scent of a costly perfume engulfed him.
"Hi, there" greeted a saccharine coated voice, "Can you buy me a drink?"
Caesar turned slowly to face her. One of the bimbos stood near him. She had a bold expression on her face.
"Sure, but why not?" he said smoothly, "Drinks are on the house. Anything you like."
"Anything. You and your friend."
The two ladies immediately beckoned to the bar man and he watched amused as they ordered a bottle of Remy Martins. They gushed their thanks, flashing their eyes seductively at him as they did so.
"The pleasure is entirely all mine." He said blithely.
He turned away from them and concentrated on his bottle of stout.
He glanced at his watch. 19:37. There was still time. 20:00 was the appointed hour. He hoped he had not come all the way to Kebby Creek on a wild goose chase. He did not want to imagine how much of an idiot he would look if that happened. Not that he wouldn't say he didn't have it coming.
He did not have a pleasant trip. Finding Kebby Creek, some obscure town in Delta State was more difficult than he imagined and he was behind the wheel of his Benz for more hours than he wanted. When he finally rolled into town he was pissed, tired and hungry. He checked into the most expensive Hotel in the town and had dinner at a restaurant in the building. He then grabbed forty winks at his hotel suite and later on set out to find Sandy's Bar. The mysterious caller was right again, the bar was easy to find. The first pedestrian he asked gave him specific directions that were perfect.
Now it was a quarter to Nine and Caesar was beginning to feel a bit daft. Supposing the whole thing was a wild goose chase, a nasty practical joke to make him look stupid. Maybe someone in the office was behind it. Not many people liked him there.
A lot of them may derive some joy in making a fool of him. Or worse, supposing it was a set up. The conspirators would see him walk in with a bag and assume it was the N80, 000 and decide to wait until he decided to leave the bar then strike. Maybe shoot him point blank and collect the cash, which were in fact some excellent counterfeits. If that was the case then he must have been a complete nutty fruit cake to get caught in that kind of trap especially in a town that he didn't know. This train of thought made him angry, confused and nervous and he didn't fancy any of these emotions.
At about a quarter to ten two men walked though the curtain and he recognized the taller one immediately. Alex Uzezi was an old time school buddy, whom he had not seen for some years now though they had been maintaining verbal contact. He was a tall reedy fellow with a pair of spectacles perched precariously on his beak like nose. He watched as the men chose a vacant table and made themselves comfortable. He made up his mind quickly. He would reacquaint himself with his old friend and his companion and leave the bar with them. Any would be assailants wouldn't dare attack him in such company.
Picking up his drink and bag he sauntered over to where Alex and his friend were sipping their beers. They looked up sharply when they noticed him in front of their table.
"Well, Well, look what the wind blew in. Caesar!"
Caesar winced. Alex had not forgotten the old name.
He got up to give his old friend a manly hug.
"Tony meet my friend, Caesar 'Caesar' Clark."
The two men shook hands and all sat down to resume drinking.
"Why do they call you Caesar?" asked Tony curiously. He looked young and nerdish, though he didn't wear glasses.
"It's my real name" Caesar said quickly but he was too late Alex had already taken the cue.
"Well no one really knows." Alex began mischievously, picking up the tone of a snotty British history narrator," legend has it that he came into this sinful world though a Caesarian operation."
"Others say that after his first date with a girl his friends, including my humble self, demanded a feed back. His reply was this: I came, I saw, I conquered."
Tony roared with laughter while Caesar glared evilly at Alex but he wasn't finished yet:.
" But I prefer it backwards: I conquered, I saw, I came."
Tony nearly fell of his seat laughing while Caesar adopted a long-suffering expression on his face.
"Do you want to know how Alex ruined his eyesight?" Caesar asked Tony breaking into his Cheshire Cat grin.
"No he doesn't " said Alex hastily.
"Oh yes I do. Go on."
"From pornographic movies. At a tender age he would sneak out at night to watch them on video or whenever his old folks are out. TV radiation ruined his eyesight. I begged him to stop watching all that filth but he wouldn't listen. The poor fellow is as blind as a bat."
"That's not true " Alex protested "I can see very well.
"Only when you see a female. Alex has a Ph.D. in female anatomy."
"You don't mention?" Tony said surprised.
"Don't pay any attention to what he is saying, Tony. Anyway, Caesar I'm now happily engaged to a very sweet girl so don't think I'm in the same boat with you."
"You! Engaged? I'm not sure if you've ever even had a girlfriend before. How did you manage? Through an advert?"
"No, just by my level. I'm a top man in Shell here. Girls are fighting over me."
"You don't say!" Caesar exclaimed sarcastically, "The poor girl must be struggling to keep a hold on you."
"She doesn't need to do that. I love her". Caesar nearly choked on his stout. "Could you repeat that again? I think my ears are malfunctioning."
"You heard me the first time."
"Tony are you responsible for this" Caesar asked accusingly, turning to the young man who was grinning from ear to ear. He raised his hands in protest.
"It wasn't me."
"Alex listen" said Caesar earnestly, "You are not in love. You might be in lust or even in lunacy but definitely not in love."
"Because you are incapable of love doesn't mean others aren't."
"I was in love before. The bitch broke my heart like a cheap china plate."
"That was a long time ago. You were all wishy-washy back then. Ever since she left you've turned into cube of ice."
"It safer that way."
"That's what you use to kid yourself. You know anyone who believes in love will find it. Anyway it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."
"Who's been wishy-washy now?"
"Tony, do you believe in love?" Alex asked his friend.
"No, but I believe in lust."
They all laughed.
"Lets drink to that? Suggested Caesar "Here's to lust."
They all clinked their glasses together.
Three hours passed unnoticed as they drank liquor, ate pepper soup, discussed females and exchanged expensive jokes. Later on the waitress came to their table and Alex insisted he would pay for everything.
She was tipped heavily and Caesar still gave her some extra notes. She beamed happily at him before waddling away to another table.
"I think she likes you" remarked Alex.
"You mean that fat, smelly hippo with knockers like melons?"
"The way you like them, eh?"
They laughed again.
"Let me take you to my place, Caesar" Alex said with a yawn, "I want to show off my fiancée."
"Honey I'm home " Alex called out cheerfully when he and Caesar had entered into the well furnished bungalow, "Where are you?"
"Coming, Darling" said a voice floating from somewhere in the building, "I'm in the bathroom"
"Hurry up honey and come here I want you to meet a very old friend of mine."
"Okay, Darling. Coming, coming."
"Why are you hurrying her?" asked Caesar dryly "She said she's coming in the bathroom."
"You watch your tongue when she's around."
"Was it something I said?'
She came out wearing a pink bathrobe. Even Caesar at his most cynical had to suppress a gasp when he saw her.
She was quite tall, almost his height and on the heavy side. Her physique did not affect her figure, which was ample in all the right placers. The colour of her exposed flesh was a golden honey. The hair was a dark chestnut and Caesar could see the richness even through the shower cap she wore. The eyes were huge with a puppy tenderness that made you yearn for her. He nose was rather pert but her lips were full and lush. She exuded a kind of susceptibility that was both arousing and endearing. She made you want to take good care of her and spend all your hard earned cash doing it. Caesar winced. No wonder Alex was in love. He didn't stand a chance.
She was watching him the way a buyer would size up a price bull. Her intense gaze made him fell uncomfortable and that infuriated him. He felt no female could make him feel that way.
"Isabelle I want you to meet Caesar."
"Caesar?" she asked, an amused smile playing on her lips.
"Yes Caesar" Alex said, avoiding the warning look shot at him from his friend. "His mom liked Roman History or something."
She took his hand. It was soft and warm and he did not miss the playful stroke at the centre of his palm from her middle finger. A message. Goodness, he hadn't stayed three seconds in her presence and he was already being put into temptation. Eve!
"Very nice to meet you ma'am."
"Please call me Belle."
"Okay, Belle. Alex has told me so much about in you in the little while we were together tonight."
"He did? Nothing bad I hope?"
"He tried. He didn't succeed."
She laughed. A deep husky laugh that set his nerves tingling.
Alex had told him to check out of his hotel and stay with them while he was in town. He had thought it was a good way of saving Mummy Dearest's money now he wasn't sure it was such a good idea.
Caesar believed in loyalty and the last thing he wanted was to be sniffing around his friend's fiancée. He might hold his own but Belle might not and then it would be the case of poor Joseph the Dreamer in the Bible that had the officer's wife come on to him like a fly to honey. Oh, well. A little tension in the air never did any one any harm.
Alex told her to fix them some drinks and he took Caesar to his living room where he smugly switched on the big screen T.V and the D.V.D player.
"You're not doing badly are you?" remarked Caesar dryly.
Alex shrugged and smiled like a stuffed cat.
She came back with some brandy on ice and passed them round. She said she had to go prepare dinner so she drifted off in the direction of the kitchen. Caesar wished she would put on something more decent than the bathrobe and he firmly avoided glancing at her swaying hips because he knew Alex was watching him with keen interest.
"So how is she?" he asked eagerly, peering at his friend though his spectacles. Caesar gave a wan smile.
"Like I said before -- you are not doing very badly."
"Don't worry. A few more years of hard work and you'll be just like me."
Caesar looked at him in amazement.
"Your tongue is your personal property, Alex use it as you like."
"Which brings me to an important question what is your occupation?"
"I was a reporter"
" Yep. I resigned yesterday."
"You don't mean it. Which paper?"
"Aah. You fell out with the Editor. She's a cheeky bitch, eh."
" No. It wasn't for gender discriminating reasons. I just got tired of the whole charade."
"What whole charade?"
"She determining what I wrote that could be published and all that crap. She didn't except my last report so I tossed my resignation letter on her lap and staged a walk out."
" So what are you going to do now?"
" I don't know. Maybe go freelance or something."
"But your mom will always help you out."
"Forget her, please."
" Okay, Okay. So what are you doing in this town? Don't tell me you were just passing by and decided to drop by and see me. To get to this place is not exactly a pleasure trip.
" I heard though the grapevine that something spooky is going on here. But it's still basically a mystery. I came around to see what's up and to see whether it might be my first freelance story." He did not add the mysterious phone call and the so called information he was supposed to receive. Or the counterfeit notes in his bag.
" Well you heard right. There is something very serious afoot in this town right now. Someone is killing young women in a very brutal fashion and dumping them in the marshes."
"Brutal fashion? Can you be more specific?"
"Multiple stabbing, parts missing, eyes and tits gone and other more gory details."
"Yep. Four victims so far. One every week."
"Any idea who might be responsible?"
"Nope. No one knows. The police say they might be ritual killers, but Tony and the locals don't think so."
"You remember the guy who was with me at the bar. He thinks it's a serial killer."
" Serial killer? Come on that's a western phenomenon. We Africans do kill but it's usually over land, money, political or ethnic reasons. Not for the hell of it." Believe it or not, Tony thinks that's the poker. He's obsessed about such things."
Caesar waved his hand in impatient dismissal.
"What about the locals?"
" That's a bit more complicated. Let me tell you a story about this town.
"Kebby creek is not really a town but a conurbation of settlements built up by the various oil companies operating here. The existing villages were urbanized to cater for the oil workers who live very far from home. Kebbi Creek is very near a huge expanse of marsh that lies to the east of the town. There is oil at the centre of the marsh land, a lot of it and that is where the oil rigs are located. The only access across those marshes to the rigs is by hovercraft.
These oil workers are normally transferred from Warri, Port Harcourt and Lagos and since the area is extremely humid and hot, they prefer not to come with their families so most of them live alone in here.
"Now the locals make a living for those workers by setting up small scale businesses like small restaurants, shops and other services. But of course they never make one tenth of what the least of these workers earn.
"However the most lucrative business for those locals is prostitution which of course is strictly for the ladies. Kebbi creek has some of the most beautiful women in the country. Most of them are dare complexioned, slim and shapely and quite pretty facially but most importantly harbour no inhibitions whatsoever.
"Oil workers after returning from the rig usually want to let of steam. Since their wives and children are not around they are as free as birds. They spend a lot of money on these "call girls" as we call them, some times even up to N20, 000 a night. These girls earn more than their counter parts can hope to get in a year and sometimes they even hit the jackpot by becoming a mistress or even a wife. Then if they score a white man their cash flow is unlimited.
"Inevitably the local males are not happy with the situation. They feel their girls are shunning them now because they don 't have the dough to maintain their expensive lifestyle. Their hatred towards the oil workers is increasing everyday.
"Then these killings started. The locals are blaming the oil workers saying that some of them are now so power drunk they now rape and kill their women. The oil workers are denying this but they don't want to listen. They've been looking for something to use against us for a long times. These victims have been mutilated beyond recognition and not a single one has been positively identified. The police have been trying to cover things up and are not helping any reporters who come on the scene. That might make your case difficult."
"That's putting it mildly."
"However I know how I might help. Tony keeps photos of his work at his home. Most times he tries to make me look at them but I'm not a fan of such graphic material. Maybe I'll take you to him. I'II tell him you've a mystery writer or something and he'd probably become your best friend. I'll bet he would show you the photos for fun."
"Great. I would love to see them."
"I was afraid you'll say that. By the way why didn't you take up mystery writing?'
"You don't think I'll be able to scratch the likes of Agatha Christie or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, do you?"
"But you loved reading their books back in the day. You used to be very good at predicting who the perpetrator of the crime was long before the story ended.'
"That was a long time ago. Right now I'm just a frustrated reporter who just lost his job."
Jobo Bus Stop, Kebby Creek
July 12, Saturday, 06:30
There she was, standing at the bus stop, like she always did by 6:30 a.m. I had watched her for so long that I knew her daily routine by heart. I decided that Julie would join Ejiro in Hell where they belonged.
She was stunning as usual. Tall, willowy with a killer figure any man or woman would die for. I pulled the Honda up to her. The suspicious look in her eyes evaporated when she saw me at the wheel.
"Well, well," she said in surprise, "I didn't know you had a car."
"Well, I didn't plan to be poor forever. Need a lift?"
She opened the passenger door and flopped exhaustedly on the seat.
"Are you tired?" I asked as I put the car in motion.
"Let's go jiving then. I know a very cool place where we can have fun. Just for all times sake."
"Hah, Sweetheart, I've cooled down oh!"